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Longevity Demographics & Statistics Mortality

American Life Expectancy Continues To Drop

2 years, 6 months ago

10179  0
Posted on Dec 25, 2019, 5 p.m.

According to a study published November 26, 2019 in the Journal of the American Medical Association American life expectancy continues to decline with midlife mortality rates increasing for all populations groups: findings suggest that "US life expectancy has not kept pace with that of other wealthy countries and is now decreasing." 

Midlife mortality was defined as mortality for individuals between the ages of 25-64, which has increased across all racial groups and was caused by “drug overdoses, alcohol abuse, suicides, and a diverse list of organ system diseases.” 

"Life expectancy data for 1959-2016 and cause-specific mortality rates for 1999-2017 were obtained from the US Mortality Database and CDC WONDER." The increased midlife mortality occurred from 2014 to 2017: “US life expectancy increased for most of the past 60 years, but the rate of increase slowed over time and life expectancy decreased after 2014,” the study concludes. “The implications for public health and the economy are substantial.”

Between 1959-2016 American life expectancy increased from 69.9 years to 78.9 years but declined for three consecutive years since 2014. During 2010 to 2017 midlife all cause mortality rates increased from 328.5 deaths/100,000 to 348.2 deaths/100,000; by 2014 midlife mortality increased across all racial groups, and this was associated with an estimated 33,307 excess deaths with 32.8% occurring in 4 Ohio Valley States. 

The hardest hit geographic areas were in the Ohio Valley which includes parts of West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, as well as Northern England; these areas have seen a loss of manufacturing jobs in recent years, Ohio and West Virginia have also been particularly affected by the opioid addiction epidemic. 

According to the National Center for Health Statistics the American fertility rate has declined for the 4th straight year. In 2018 the fertility rate was 59.1 births for every 1,000 women of childbearing age which is a record low. There was a slight uptick in 2014, but there has been an ongoing decline since the financial crisis in 2008; fertility rates tend to drop in periods of economic distress, but in this instance the rate has not rebounded even as the economy tries to slowly recover. 

“It is hard for me to believe that the birthrate just keeps going down,” University of New Hampshire demographer Kenneth Johnson told the New York Times.

The implications for public health and the economy are substantial because of the decline infertility paired with the increase in mortality making it paramount to both identify and understand the underlying causes and develop approaches for intervention.

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